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Tips for Attracting Hummingbirds

by Heather Reynolds

Let Nature Remind You the Beauty It Has to Offer!

Their incredible feats of motion, zipping along at super speed, then stopping to hover and fly backwards, amaze all viewers, especially your kids! Ruby-throated hummingbirds are the most common type seen in Texas. The males start scouting for food sources a few weeks ahead of the migration of the females and can be seen as early as April. The highest populations congregate around gardens and feeders in July.

Watching aerial antics of hummingbirds is quite entertaining and I offer these following tips to help you entice these colorful little friends to your yard for your mutual enjoyment.

  1. Plant masses of flowers that hummers love to sip. They particularly like the colors red, pink, and orange. The list below shows some of their favorite flowers that grow well in our area.
  2. Provide perches for the birds using dead branches or planted shrubs that are not too dense. Hummers spend about 80 percent of their time sitting on twigs, branches or clotheslines surveying the area and protecting their food source.
  3. Install water feature that drips or mists water. Hummers enjoy bathing and flying through mist, and the sounds of these water features attract their notice. Observing them flying through water vapor is as amusing as watching children play in a sprinkler.
  4. Avoid the use of pesticides in your gardens and yard, both inorganic and organic. Killing garden pests eliminates the small insects hummingbirds eat for their protein source. Hummers are very sensitive to toxic materials, which might be retained on the flowers.
  5. Put nectar feeders out in mid-April when the scouts start their migration north, looking for routes that have nearby food sources. They will tell their buddies about your roadside diner for their trip later in the spring.
  6. Decorate your feeder with red ribbon or bright orange surveying tape. This would be the equivalent of the neon “Eat Here” sign on the hummer highway.
  7. Keep your feeder clean and your sugar solution fresh. Wash the feeder with vinegar and hot water (no detergents) and scrub with a bottlebrush at every refill. Replace the sugar water every two or three days.
  8. Keep ants out of the feeder by using an ant guard on the feeder hanger. You can purchase them, or make one by drilling a hole in a plastic film canister, sliding the hanger through the hole and filling the canister with water. Ants will not survive the water obstacle and be unable to march down into the feeder, as long as you keep the water level up. 
  9. Hang your feeder in a shady spot, or provide shade with an umbrella (a red one would be the best). This keeps the nectar cooler in the heat of the summer.
  10. Make your own hummingbird nectar. Boil four cups of water and one cup of white sugar for one minute. Do not use honey or red coloring. You may store this solution for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.

BEST HUMMINGBIRD PLANTS:

Shrubs:

Abelia, Azaleas, Butterfly Bushes, Firebush, Turk’s Cap, Vitex, Oleander and Wiegela.

Vines:

Crossvine, Honeysuckle, Morning Glory, Trumpet Vines, Jasmine vines.

Flowers:

Bee balm, Cardinal flower, Columbine, Coneflower, Daisies, Zinnia, Hibiscus, Scivola, Angelonia, Coral Belles, Impatiens, Pentas, Vinca and Salvia.

Question:

Jimmie, I have Vinca groundcover in my garden and every summer it seems to die back for some reason. Any thoughts? – Thank you, Ronnie L. in Prosper

Answer:

Hi Ronnie, your problem sounds like leafrollers. Use a systemic insecticide to treat it. Spray 3 to 4 weeks prior to the time you usually begin having problems. Since the leafrollers get themselves sequestered within the leaves, only a systemic product can reach them.

Question:

Jimmie, I met finally met you a couple of weeks ago at Texas Roadhouse. (Again, I am so sorry to interrupt your family’s dinner! You could not have been any nicer to me and my kids! Thank you for that!!!) As I was asking you then, since it looks like we will be staying home with all our children this summer I wanted to have or at least prepare for a Vegetable Garden (and teach my kids as well) even if we do not plant until the fall. Can you please tell me again what I need to put in soil wise to get it ready? – Maddie P. in Prosper

Answer:

Hi Maddie! Don’t you worry about our dinner! My family and I are always happy to accommodate anyone who needs help for anything! That is the way I raise my kids! Assuming you have a border installed to retain your garden or perhaps you have a constructed raised garden ready to prep. It is important that you have good drainage as most veggies don’t love wet feet!

As far as the contents of the soil I have always had really good luck with a

Mixture of 1/3 Compost (I prefer Cotton Burr type), 1/3 Landscaping mix, and 1/3 good quality Topsoil. Next time I see you around town I will buy your family’s dinner as you kindly did for me! Thank you again!

Question:

Jimmie, what is the best remedy for grasshoppers? Thanks for all your articles, I really enjoy them! – Tim P. in Prosper

Answer:

Hi Tim, many general-purpose organic and inorganic insecticides are labeled for use on grasshoppers. One of the most important factors is in your means of applying them. It’s usually best to spray down over the tops of your plants so that the spray will coat the grasshoppers as they try to fly away. Of course, cutting all the tall weeds and grass in proximity to your landscape and garden will also help. Until next time……. Happy gardening!!

Jimmie

Send your landscaping and gardening questions to Jimmie Gibson Jr. at http://www.absolutelybushedlandscaping.com or jimmie@absolutelybushed.com

Jimmie is a Prosper resident and the owner of Absolutely Bushed Landscaping Company, an award winning, family and veteran owned and operated business created in 1980 to provide the highest quality custom Outdoor Renovation available to homeowners in the Dallas Ft. Worth area.

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